The sound


By Michael Swanger


Summer Jam, Big Country Bash lead big week of concerts


Though the local media (including this newspaper) will tout next week’s 80-35 festival as the metro’s biggest music event of the summer, this is the busiest, most diverse concert week of the summer thanks in part to two big shows to be held at Blank Park Zoo this weekend, which was moved from Water Works Park due to flooding concerns.
In addition to the show by Justin Bieber at Wells Fargo Arena, concerts at the Simon Estes Amphitheater, performances by Iowa musicians at the Des Moines Arts Festival and several quality club shows (see this week’s Sound Notes), Blank Park Zoo will attract thousands of country music and ’80s metal fans at the annual 95 KGGO Summer Jam and Big Country Bash.
A pre-party for both events will be held Friday, June 25 at 7 p.m. at 7 Flags Event Center with performances by Hat Trick Heroes and The Band Perry. Admission is free with concert tickets or $10 at the door.


95 KGGO Summer Jam
Saturday, June 26, Blank Park Zoo
Noon to 9:15 p.m. Gates open at 11 a.m. rain or shine.
Tickets $29.50 - $133. Call 418-9381 or visit


No food, drinks, coolers allowed.


Chairs and cameras allowed.


Night Ranger — This year’s headliners got their start during the 1980s with hits like “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “Sister Christian.” Original singer Jack Blades reunited with Night Ranger in 1996 after leaving in 1989.


Skid Row — Their 1989 hit “18 and Life” is included in a new book, “Full Metal


Jackie Certified: The 50 Most Influential Heavy Metal Songs of the ’80s and the True Stories Behind Their Lyrics.” Johnny Solinger replaces original vocalist Sebastian Bach.


Winger — Made its debut in 1988 and scored hits like “Seventeen,” “Madalaine” and “Miles Away.” They reunited after a decade apart in 2006 with founder Kip Winger. In 2009 they released “Karma.”


Dokken — Original lead singer Don Dokken and drummer Mick Brown remain from the band that scored ’80s metal hits like “Just Got Lucky,” “In My Dreams” and “Burning Like a Flame.”


Sweet — British glam rockers are best known for their 1973 hit “The Ballroom Blitz.”


LA Guns — There are two versions of LA Guns, which scored hits like “Never Enough” and “The Ballad of Jayne” during the ’80s, touring these days: One with original guitarist Tracii Guns, the other with singer Phil Lewis, which performs here.

Warrant — Singer Jani Lane’s reunion with his former glam-metal band that had hits like “Heaven” and “Cherry Pie” was short lived last year. Robert Mason, formerly of Lynch Mob, now sings.

Cold Filtered — Des Moines band’s website describes them as “80’s cock rock.”


Enough said.


Big Country Bash
Sunday, June 27, Blank Park Zoo
Noon to 10 p.m. Gates open at 11 a.m. rain or shine.
Tickets $20 - $125. Children 12 and under are free. Call 418-9381 or visit

No food, drinks, coolers, backpacks, big purses, re-entry allowed.
Camp and lawn chairs, blankets allowed.


Gretchen Wilson — Bartender-turned-country-music-star co-headlines this year’s


Big Country Bash. Best known for her breakout hit “Redneck Woman,” Wilson returns to Des Moines for the first time since her 2006 show at Wells Fargo Arena. In March, she released her fourth album, “I Got Your Country Right Here.”


Rodney Atkins — Co-headliner and crooner has scored a number of hits, including his most famous, “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead).” He is slated to release a new album, “Farmer’s Daughter,” later this year.

Jason Michael Carroll — His latest album, “Where I’m From,” has netted this deep-voiced newcomer a hit single with the ballad “Hurry Home.”

Trailer Choir — Pop-country trio’s members look like mismatches, but their debut album, “Tailgate,” is the latest product of the Nashville hit machine.

Jerrod Nieman — Pop-country singer will play songs from his forthcoming album, “Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury.”

Sarah Darling — Her newest video, “Whenever It Rains,” is in medium rotation on CMT Pure.

Jason Brown — Iowa’s own is set to release his third album this summer. CV

Caption: Night Ranger and Gretchen Wilson headline the 95 KGGO Summer Jam and Big Country Bash, respectively, at Blank Park Zoo this weekend.


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